Jake Faria “Pumped” to Make His First Diamondbacks Start

Jake Faria

Jake Faria, one of the newest Arizona Diamondbacks, is starting Monday evening on the road against the St. Louis Cardinals. The right-hander spoke about this with the media Sunday afternoon, saying, “I’m pumped. It’s been a while — almost two and a half years since I’ve had a start in the big leagues. I’m excited to get on the mound again and start a game.”

His arrival was not one as a cast-off who had been designated for assignment. The Los Angeles Angels wanted to keep him but hadn’t called him up yet. “I had an opt-out on June 1. I was throwing well by (Triple-A West) standards and decided to push it back by two weeks to see how it went. When it came to the 15th of June, I decided to pursue other opportunities.”

Triple-A Pitching Stats of Jake Faria

Faria wasn’t kidding — he honestly was pitching well. Yes, his ERA seemed high, and he gave up a lot of hits, but keep in mind that half the Triple-A West is at higher elevations. That includes his Salt Lake Bees. For the sake of comparison, consider this. Six of the ten teams in the Triple-A West are higher than Phoenix, home of the Diamondbacks and the second-highest city in the majors (1,090 feet). Those teams play in Oklahoma City (1,201 feet), Las Vegas (2,001 feet), El Paso (3,740 feet), Salt Lake City (4,226 feet), Reno (4,505 feet), and Albuquerque (5,312 feet).

Since more than half of the Triple-A West is higher than the second-highest city in the majors, it makes sense that their league-average ERA is a whopping 5.72. Of the six, only Oklahoma City has given up fewer than 10.0 hits per nine. They also are the only ones to have more than 10 strikeouts per nine.

Now that the background is set, let’s look at Jake Faria’s numbers. In 36 2/3 innings — spread across seven games, all starts — he had a 5.65 ERA (99 ERA-minus), 1.527 WHIP, 10.1 hits per nine, 3.7 walks per nine, and 11.3 strikeouts per nine. Compare these with the Triple-A West averages — 5.72 ERA, 1.549 WHIP, 9.7 hits per nine, 4.2 walks per nine, and 9.4 strikeouts per nine. The only stat where he is higher than the league average is hits per nine, but his team’s average is 11.0 hits per nine.

Spending 2020 at the Alternate Site

Jake Faria made his major league debut June 7, 2017, with the Tampa Bay Rays. He bounced between the Rays and the Triple-A Durham Bulls until the trade deadline in 2019. On that date, the Rays shipped him to the Milwaukee Brewers for All-Star first baseman Jesus Aguilar. His time with Milwaukee did not work out. His 2019 ERA with the Rays was 2.70, but with the Brewers, it was 11.42.

Due to his alarmingly high ERA, he spent the entire 2020 season at the alternate site. The Brewers, despite using him solely as a reliever in 2019, wanted to move him into the starting rotation. Faria said, “I was starting the whole time at the alternate site with Milwaukee — I didn’t have any options. The way teams were using their pitching staffs last year, they were moving guys around a lot. I didn’t get a chance to go up and throw. It wasn’t as easy a decision as it was for some other players.”

He continued, “It was tough. You want to be in the big leagues. You want to be up there contributing, especially with a team that goes to the postseason. But all in all, it ended up well. I’m back in the big leagues now.”

Pitch Mix of Jake Faria

Jake Faria’s pitch arsenal has varied since making his major league debut. “I went from being a four-pitch guy in ’17 to being a three-pitch guy in ’18 and limited the way I was able to attack guys. In 2019, having been moved to the ‘pen, I went to (thinking that) whatever secondary pitch was working the best in the ‘pen was what I was going to throw,” he said.

While at the Brewers’ alternate site, he brought the rest of his pitches back. Faria said, “2020 and this year was getting back to being more of a complete, four-pitch guy. I’m not splitting it 25% each pitch, but the split-fingered fastball is probably my best off-speed pitch. I’ll throw that more — I’m getting comfortable with it again — and will try to mix everything else in pretty frequently.”

Reuniting with an Old Friend

Jake Faria and injured Diamondbacks reliever Chris Devenski went to the same high school — Gahr High School in Cerritos, California. Devenski is three years older. They did not, however, play together. Faria recalled, “When he was a senior and I was a freshman, I was at a different school and then transferred between freshman and sophomore year. But when we both got into pro ball, I had been going to a pitching coach in San Diego for a couple of weeks. I was playing catch with Devo at our high school and told him that I thought he should come down and work with this guy. So, we started working out in San Diego three days a week the next off-season. We would carpool every day and switch off the driving duties every time. (Consequently,) I’ve spent a lot of time with Devo these last 10 years.

Happy to Be Back in the Big Leagues

After opting out of his contract with the Angels, Faria had to play the nerve-wracking waiting game. “It was really stressful — different teams had called, and I was trying to figure out where to go. The Diamondbacks said hey — we’re going to put you in the big leagues. We need pitching, we like you, so we’re going to throw you in the big leagues. It was a lot of peaks and pits, going up and down for three days, but I’m glad I ended up here,” he said.

So far with the Diamondbacks, he’s been a reliever despite having been groomed to be a major league starter. That’s okay with Faria, however. “I’m just happy to be back in the big leagues. Last year was tough, being at the alternate site all year and not getting an opportunity, but I’m glad I can be here to provide an extra arm in the bullpen. I’m just happy to be back in the big leagues to contribute however I can.”

Jake Faria’s first Diamondbacks start will be Monday evening in St. Louis. He will face Wade LeBlanc (0–1, 6.75 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 7:15 Central, or 5:15 Arizona Time.

Main Photo:
Embed from Getty Images

Players mentioned:

Jake Faria, Jesus Aguilar, Chris Devenski, Wade LeBlanc